Back to plein air painting. I have a friend who lives quite close by and has a most delightful garden. I painted there three times this summer and each time it was a different kind of treat. In May, the peonies, roses and irises were showing all their bounty. So lush and joyful.
I have been playing more with acrylics lately than I have for a long time. Feeling experimental! This peonies in a vase composition was painted from my imagination using lots of layering, mark-making and impasto – another piece that felt very freeing.
Tom’s haiku is a perfect accompaniment!
cut blossom glass vase
petals falling in the sun
lazy summer morn
Another piece that popped into my head and had to be realized. I thought the face looked a bit like Audrey Hepburn but the image was from my imagination.
Tom wrote a wonderful sonnet to accompany this one. I took the title for the painting from his poem.
Is there a dancer dreaming of the flowers
or a flower dreaming of the dance
waving on the winds that sweep and scour
the stage while all the chorus line’s advance
is checked by stems too short for metre’s travel
and so they bow and shimmy in reverse
before their strict formation can unravel
into a flock of petals, or still worse
inelegant and wobbly razzle-dazzle
unfit for such refined and proper blooms
despite just feeling oh so slightly frazzled
knowing that the end of dancing looms?
For days the flowers dance upon the breeze
bringing all who see them to their knees.
A quick oil sketch showing the colours and forms of the flowers – peonies, ranunculus, lisianthus, and more.
Here is Tom’s poem!
These are the colours of our wedding day: deep and rich and bright. They’re kind of fun,
and besides they stood and heard us say,
“You know, I really think you are the one” or words to that effect as we two stood
facing our tomorrows side-by-side:
committing to the useful and the good,
knowing what’s not taken will abide.
These simple colours riding high on stems
held within your hands as down we walked
across the grass that brushed our fancy hems as in the trees the birds and sunlight talked:
they stood with us as we both vowed our vows and gave their blessing with their graceful bows.
I have always loved peonies – those fragrant and generous blooms! This painting is on linen instead of the smooth gessoed panels I usually use. I do love the subtle texture of linen. Maybe that was why, but the painting came together more easily than usual.
Here is Tom’s evocative and powerful poem for these peonies.
Standing stems bear waving flags
of armies conquering the sky
with a joy that never sags
charging forth to do or die
in defense of beauty wild
against the mud that’s ranked and filed
upon the ugly battlefield
where the flowers will not yield
to cold order, hate’s command
that all that lives conform or lose,
bright peonies will dance and choose
to hold their ground and make their stand.
In all the universe so cold
It’s only this we have to hold.
I have started up oil painting again – yay! I have done three very small (6″x6″) paintings for an online painting course – Once Upon a Time in Provence with Dreama Perry. I can’t recommend her courses enough – so much inspiration! I will not be posting the paintings I am doing as part of the course and following her instructional videos as they are her copyrighted material in terms of composition, method etc. However, as I go along, I will post other pieces I am doing.
This is a 9×12 oil on gesso board of two peonies in a blue jar using the alla prima method where oil paint is layered wet on wet in a single session. Here the challenges I was focused on were painting the white peony using a subtle variety of colours for the shadows and getting a pleasing effect of transparency and shine for the glass jar.
Tom’s poem to go with this one is a little melancholy but reminds us to see beauty and love life in the moment.
so pretty on the table in the sun
warming up the lonely room with colour
pushing back the shadows and the dun
dreary dullness in the days of dolour
a bright reminder of more happy times
living beauty grown in fertile soil
giving pleasure as the churchbell chimes
calling mourners all to gentle toil
remembering the layered past beyond
this circled sadness of the present instant
skipping stones across a summer pond
listening to the loon in purple distance
a momentary beauty still in life
bringing solace in the midst of strife
painting (c) 2017 Hilary Farmer
poem (c) 2017 Tom Radcliffe